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There’s a pretty sneaky scam involving your “Smith’s Rewards” card that’s spreading fast out there.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to stop.
Some scam artists out there are taking advantage of the fact that Los Alamos is a small town with one major grocery store chain.
According to the victims, dishonest motorists are using residents’ phone numbers to get discounts on gas.
The way it works is pretty simple: those signing up for a Smith’s card are asked to give an alternative, 10-digit ID number. Unfortunately, many people are using their phone numbers because they are so easy to remember.
Since Los Alamos is a small town with just one grocery store chain, scammers just roll up to the gas stations that accept Smith’s cards, plug in a 505-662 number and often get “lucky.”
Of course, when the legitimate owner of the Smith’s card tries to cash in their points, which can be as much as $1 per gallon off their fill-up, they often get a rude awakening. All those points they think they’ve accumulated through buying groceries are gone.
“Unfortunately, this is a small enough community they can just go through the phonebook, pick a number and if it works, keep using it,” said one victim, who asked not to be identified.
The same victim said they’ve ended up accumulating around 1,500 rewards points in November, then another 2,500 through various purchases they’ve made at Smith’s, which included gift cards.
“We noticed that every time we went to fill up, we didn’t have the points we expected,” the victim said.
It turns out, when they called Smith’s, someone had taken approximately 1,000 points, which he said equaled about a $1 a gallon.
“We worked so hard to get fuel points to save on gas, just to have them taken,” the victim said, adding that Smith’s was able to partially reimburse them for their loss.
“But what I learned is that it’s kind of a common phenomenon here,” they said. “We ended up canceling our cards, getting new ones and making sure we don’t use our phone number as an alternative ID.”
“Stacy,” a customer service representative at Smith’s, said the store will gladly work with customers who’ve been scammed this way.
However, for those who absolutely must have an alternative ID, she recommended using any 10-digit number that isn’t a phone number.
ZIP codes, in combination with personal dates that are easy to remember, are often good ID numbers, she said.
“A lot of people want (to use a phone number) because it’s easy to remember, but it’s the least secure,” Stacy said, adding that it’s a good idea to never use your alternative ID if you can help it. “We recommend just using your own card, and not even having an alternative ID. We can link cards if each family member needs a card.”
She added that if people do notice something funny going on with their points to contact the store.
“We can determine at our end if an alternative ID was used, and if it was, we will put back your points. But, this also means you have to change that alternative ID,” she said.